The Cartwheel Galaxy is the Webb Telescope’s Latest Cosmic Snapshot

The Cartwheel Galaxy is the Webb Telescope's Latest Cosmic Snapshot
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On Tuesday, scientists released the latest images. NASA’s triumphant James Webb Space Telescope. this newest version documents the aptly named Cartwheel galaxy, located about 500 million light-years from our planet and for its wheel-like appearance with a center core, a tire, and even wavy, fluorescent spokes. Webb also recorded two smaller companion galaxies with Cartwheel.

The new images came just after NASA’s announcement on July 12. five starting scenes It was imaged by the Webb telescope, the most powerful space observatory ever built. Since they were released in December. On January 25, Webb’s 18 hexagonal gold mirrors aligned to capture other targets in space, though not all images have been released. Snapshots include: Southern Ring Nebularesembling a soap bubble expanding from a dead star and the stunning Carina NebulaIt consists of swirling dust resembling jagged cliffs.

Astronomers have been studying the Cartwheel galaxy for decades. Initially, it was studied from two ground observatories in Australia, first the UK Schmidt telescope and then the Anglo-Australian telescope. But the best known Hubble space telescopeWhich Images produced in the 1990s with more details of galaxy makeup. And just as Webb revealed its existence in July even more distant galaxies hidden from our viewCartwheel’s photos magnified the detailed formation of stars within the galaxy’s rings and dozens of other star systems beyond.

The appearance of the Cartwheel comes from the collision of two galaxies that occurred hundreds of millions of years ago. “We speculate that the Basket Wheel probably started to look like something like the Milky Way, and then it went through this other galaxy,” they said. Marcia Rieke, principal investigator of the near infrared camera, or NIRCam, one of the scientific instruments of the Webb telescope. However, the smaller galaxy continued on its way away from the larger one, rather than being trapped in the larger spiral it had entered. It does not appear in the image released by NASA.

Galactic collisions in deep space are not uncommon, but it is rare for them to result in a perfect shape that arouses human curiosity. Kirk Borne, principal investigator for Hubble’s Cartwheel observation but not related to Webb, said the galaxy’s strange shape, formed by chance during merger, has motivated astronomers to study it for decades.

Because a smaller galaxy collided with a larger one – and right in the middle – it did less damage to the shape of each galaxy, and both were able to retain their relative individuality. “What changed the shape of the Cartwheel was the effect of this other galaxy’s gravitational field, which changed the orbits of the stars in the original Cartwheel galaxy,” said Dr. said Rieke.

Dr. By studying other galaxy collisions, Borne identified the smaller galaxy as a bullet that pierced the larger one. After observing the cosmic object in the 1990s, scientists, Dr. Borne called it the “smoking gun,” indicating that the Cartwheel continued to move after creating its new formation.

Currently 1.5 times the size of the Milky Way, the Wheel of the Car is still expanding and new stars are forming both inside its outer ring and on its edge. However, there is no concrete answer as to how much the Cartwheel will grow, when its growth will stop, or what shape it will take when it stops.

There were cartwheel images Already at hand on July 12, but they weren’t available to the public until this week. filtered make them visually more accessiblehighlights vibrant, blue-toned young stars and red-toned molecules from older stars and space dust floating between the rings. Joseph DePasquale, a senior science visuals developer at the Space Telescope Science Institute, which manages the Webb and Hubble spacecraft, stressed that, while colorful, stars and dust are actually perceived as infrared light rather than colors.

What sets Webb’s images apart from those made by Hubble and the Anglo-Australian telescope is the new technology that detects this light in such detail. While Hubble has some ability to record light in the infrared spectrum, Webbs are more advanced and produce more vivid pictures. For example, Dr. Built by around 25 people working with NIRCam. For more than 11 years, Rieke has been distinguishing the infrared colors of stars invisible to the human eye.

When Hubble caught the Cartwheel in the 1990s, the galaxy’s “arms” were obscured by clouds of scattering gas, making it difficult to see the thousands of stars forming inside. Now, because Webb can study mid-infrared and near-infrared wavelengths of light, he can filter out space dust. This helps confirm some of the Cartwheel make-up theories created using Hubble technology and reveal new information, such as the absence of star formation in some areas between the spokes of the wheel.

“I think the combination of two telescopes, far from making one obsolete, actually increases the utility and power of Hubble because now we can make these comparisons,” says Dr. said Borne.

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